Community offers free parenting advice, support
Kids may not come with instructions, but U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan is stepping up efforts to inform parents about free resources available to them following a string of youth misconduct problems in the community.

<strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> - Kids may not come with instructions, but U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan is stepping up efforts to inform parents about free resources available to them following a string of youth misconduct problems in the community.

Problems range from regularly disturbing moviegoers at the base theater to shoplifting and offensive language in public places, says Andrea Donoghue, Yongsan's Army Substance Abuse Counseling Service supervisor.

However, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of this behavior, Donoghue would like parents to focus on prevention and what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls "community monitoring."

Community monitoring involves parents being more networked with other parents and sharing supervision plans. Parents may give other parents in the network information about potential trouble spots in the area, negatively influential peers, or trends in behavior.

Passively observing a youth going down the wrong path is not the answer, says Donoghue. "There seems to be a myth out there that teen angst, trouble, or not getting along with parents is a normal rite of passage for teens, and this isn't the case."

So how does one know when their child is having difficulty with peer pressure, drugs, or a myriad of other problems' "Trust your instincts," says Donoghue. "Monitoring and being there to talk is critical. Teens are still developing judgment and decision making skills."

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign says parents should keep a watchful eye out for these warning signs:
* When there are changes in your teen's friends, behaviors, attitudes, grades or other signs that something is going on.
* When your teen is going through a transition, such as starting a new school, moving, or entering middle or high school.
* When your teen has already gotten into some minor trouble.
* If your teen seems unusually stressed.
* If your teen seems highly susceptible to peer pressure, lacks strong coping skills or suffers from anxiety or depressions.
* If your teen has a high need for stimulation, novelty and excitement and becomes bored easily. "Sensation-seekers" are three times more likely to use illicit drugs.
* If your teen comes from a family with a history of substance abuse, violence, or mental health problems.

Donoghue stresses that just because your child may be displaying warning signs does not mean that it is too late to intervene, or even that your child may have developed a serious problem yet. However, many successful children do share a common thread.

"The common thread among teens that do well academically and socially, and stay healthily and drug-free, is that they have close relationships with their parents," she said.

If you would like to build a closer bond with your child and get professional advice along the way, Donoghue is ready to help. "The ASACS door is always open," she said. "Think of us as your personal parenting consultants."

Donoghue may be reached at 738-4579. Look for weekly parenting tips from the ASACS team each week this summer in both the Morning Calm newspaper and <a href="http://yongsan.korea.army.mil/">USAG-Yongsan Web site</a>.

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Page last updated Tue June 16th, 2009 at 21:00